Dolly Parton announced an upcoming attraction at Dollywood on Friday, and fans are eagerly awaiting its arrival in 2016.
Parton will be unveiling what park officials call the “fastest wooden roller coaster” next year, and at $22 million, the Lightning Rod will be the biggest project the park has undertaken. Plans call for the coaster to be 20 stories tall, and it will reportedly shoot visitors up the tracks at about 45 miles per hour. According to a spokesperson, thrill-seekers will literally be coming up out of their seats as the cars make their way around the curves.
“That means for less than one-third of the ride, your seat will be off the seat. For the other two-thirds, you will be on the edge of your seat,” Pete Owens said.
Dolly announced in 2013 that she had plans to expand the park, but said on Friday that she won’t be taking part in the newest ride, which is modeled after the hot rods made popular in the ’50s.
“I”m not riding that thing! I’ve got too much to lose– like my hair!,” Dolly joked at the park. She later added fondly, “Lightning Rod reminds me so much of those colorful cars cruisin’ up and down Main Street in downtown Sevierville back when I was in high school. I remember all those souped up cars; but what I remember most were those good lookin’ boys behind the wheel with those flat top and ducktail haircuts.”
Parton spoke earlier this year — the 30th anniversary of the park’s opening — and said that when she realized her star was rising, she knew she wanted to do something to give back to her hometown and honor her family’s name, and the country star has certainly done so. Dollywood boasts more than 3 million visitors every year.
According to a press release, the coaster boasts a stomach-churning 165-foot drop and ultimately reaches a speed of 73 mph, unheard of on an ordinary wooden roller coaster.
“Themed after a tricked out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod races down the 165-foot drop and propels guests along its 3,800-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.”
Lightning Rod is expected to be open for business in March — for any souls brave enough to dare.
[Photo courtesy YouTube/Coaster Crew]